Today, the electric energy infrastructure in many countries is facing paradigm-shifting challenges due to the increasing utilization of renewable energy. Renewable energy sources require different planning and control methods from traditional, fossil-fuel power plants. Traditional coal and nuclear power plants cannot be switched on and off on short notice, they require relatively predictable load patterns to be scheduled appropriately to match the demand of electrical power.
Renewable energy, on the other hand, is intermittent by nature. We all know how (un-)reliable weather forecasts can be even for tomorrow, let alone the day after. This means that the available electricity from wind turbines and photovoltaic cells also cannot be predicted reliably. For example, a single cloud passing over a house can lead to a sudden drop of available solar energy from a domestic rooftop array.
As an additional complication, renewable energy generation is distributed: Photovoltaic cells are installed on more and more rooftops and also small-scale wind turbines are available for domestic or commercial use. The owner's of these distributed energy sources often want to use their locally generated energy on-site but still have access to the larger distribution grid in case their local generators are not producing enough electricity.
FORCES Pro generates optimization algorithms to make our electricity grids truly smart.
These challenges require new approaches to how we control our electricity generators to avoid black-outs due to the fluctuations from renewable energies and use the available energy with the highest possible level of efficiency. The increasing availability of distributed energy storage solutions such as large battery packs, smart devices such as water boilers for demand response management, and the Internet of Things (IoT) provide us with more flexible measures to control the grid.